It was the kind of game that Maryland needed, where nearly everything went right from start to finish, slumping players played well and the outcome was never in doubt as the 14th-ranked Terrapins routed Coastal Carolina, 100-48, yesterday before 14,402 at Cole Field House.
Guard Juan Dixon, who had made just 23 of 64 shots in his previous five games, led Maryland with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds and five assists.
Now things get interesting for Maryland (11-2), which takes a five-game winning streak into Thursday's Atlantic Coast Conference opener at North Carolina State's new Entertainment and Sports Arena. After that, the Terrapins host No. 9 Duke on Sunday.
"It is a good way to end this part of our season and start the ACC season on a very positive feeling," said Terrapins Coach Gary Williams, whose team struggled early in victories over George Mason and Maryland-Baltimore County last week.
"We were able to use some combinations and get some people shooting the ball a little bit, which was nice to see. It always feels good when all the guys are able to contribute."
Center Lonny Baxter added 14 points for the Terrapins, forward Danny Miller had 13 and 6-foot-10 freshman forward Tahj Holden had a career-high 12 after being benched early for attempting a three-pointer midway through the first half.
Freshman point guard Steve Blake, who had been struggling, also played better. Blake, who had 15 turnovers in his past two games, finished with 10 points, 7 assists and 5 turnovers. And forward Calvin McCall, the Terrapins' football quarterback, had another impressive performance, contributing 8 points, 6 assists and 4 steals in 17 minutes.
The only Maryland starter not in double figures was preseason all-American forward Terence Morris. He took a season-low six shots and tied a season low with seven points. Morris, however, contributed 13 rebounds and five assists. As a team, the Terrapins had a season-low 13 turnovers.
It was a dominating performance by Maryland, which took a 16-0 lead in the game's first seven minutes and led by more than 20 points for the final 27 minutes.
The loss was the worst ever for Coastal Carolina (2-9), which is coached by DeMatha High graduate Pete Strickland and has four local players on its roster. Freshman guard Brandon Newby (Gonzaga High) led the Chanticleers with a career-high 13 points.
"We played well in every aspect of the game," Dixon said. "We rebounded. We passed the ball well. We scored. And we played great defense. . . . I think we have a lot of confidence going into the ACC season. A lot of good things are happening for us. We just have to keep on working and keep on getting better each day."
No matter how hard they work, the Terrapins will have a difficult time improving on yesterday's defensive effort. Forward Matt Gladieux, the Chanticleers' leading scorer, finished with a season-low four points on 2-of-8 shooting. Gladieux entered averaging 22.6 points.
"I think we're getting more together as a team and we are starting to gel together," Miller said. "We definitely have a little momentum. We just have to keep it going into Thursday."
Terrapins Notes: Maryland has won a nation-best 72 consecutive nonconference home games. . . . Maryland set season highs in assists (30) and rebounds (51).